It is amazing how we go though various stages in life. Infancy, preschool, elementary, high school, college daze, courtship, marriage, children, and add to these general categories, buying a house, adding furniture, jobs, higher pay, Cars, etc. I can remember, in the 50’s, being so proud of my first new car that I parked it just outside the window of my office. I would glance at it numerous times during the day. What a jerk! What a fool! When my kids needed better clothes and shoes.
When our middle son got polio and the doctors stated that he would not live the night, Ann and I were outside weeping and I leaned against the car. I nearly threw up, just thinking of the times I had washed, petted and pampered that piece of metal. With our son’s life on the line, the thought of the car, and the time and attention that I had given to it, made me sick. Praise God for growing up!
Years ago, UPI carried a story from London about a Yorkshire mill that was producing a gold threaded cloth for “The man who had everything”. A suit may be fashioned from this cloth for a mere $20,000 dollars. It is the first time that literal gold had been woven into the body of cloth although it has been used for centuries in embroidery, the weaver said. The cloth called “Golden Cashanova”, was woven by Moven of Huddlesfield LTD. “Just for the man who had everything.”
Laodicea was one of the centers of high fashion of the ancient world. The believers who lived then have long since passed away. John, in writing the book of Revelation unveiled their epitaph . . .”Because thou sayeth, I am rich, and increased in goods and have need of nothing, and knoweth not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayeth be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent” (Revelation 3:17-19).
I sit here, looking at the computer screen in an air-conditioned house. Two bedrooms, two bath. A nice car adorns our garage. A pickup truck lays under the carport. With money in the bank and investments here and there I cannot help but wonder if John was talking about me? I am surrounded with untold items that my grandparents would have considered rare luxuries. But Paul writes, “For they that would be rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the LOVE of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Timothy 6:9-10). Is it wrong to enjoy the life we live? Or is it wrong just to enjoy it alone? Is it wrong to buy things that we want and need? Or is it wrong to just buy them for ourselves?
Centuries come and go but man stays just about the same. The lust for materialism has been around for a long time. It is wrong to say, “I am rich, and increased in goods and have need of nothing?” Final judgment may re-classify us as wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked”. The answer to this delimna comes easy as you read on in Paul gives instruction to his young son in the faith, Timothy. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate (give): laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:17-19).
As we grow older and become wiser, we could lose sight of the big house, that glamorous automobile, that fat bank account and all those hefty investments. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth”(Luke 12:15). It’s a two edged sword to avoid at all costs. I have never seen a U-Haul hooked up to a hearse!
In the mid 19th century the most wealthy man in the county dreamed a nightmare. The angel of death declared, “The richest man in town would die tonight”. His doctor was called, his minister summoned and all gathered about him to ease the dread of what lay just ahead. Just before morning light, a cry was heard. A young runner approached the house to announce the death of an old faithful slave. A strong believer, who gave of himself for 82 years. A man of prayer and one known for his generosity and good works. He died just before the break of dawn. As the angel had said, “The richest man in town done died tonight!!”